Hinchingbrooke: £10m debt now needs to be dealt with

THERE is an underlying debt of around £10million built up quite gradually over recent years. Although it is not interest-bearing and has not been part of the frenetic rush to fix the hospital s short-term survival, it now needs to be dealt with. The hospi

THERE is an underlying debt of around £10million built up quite gradually over recent years. Although it is not interest-bearing and has not been part of the frenetic rush to fix the hospital's short-term survival, it now needs to be dealt with.

The hospital, Cambridgeshire PCT and the East of England Strategic Health Authority have now started earnest talks about how to expunge it.

Mark Millar, the hospital's chief executive, is enigmatic about a possible solution. But he is adamant that, if any land or buildings are sold at the hospital, the money will be ploughed back into patient services.

New treatments, such as keyhole surgery, mean 80 per cent of operations see patients discharged within 24 hours, compared with a stay of a week or 10 days 20 years ago.

The result, together with the opening of the treatment centre and the new paediatric unit, is that Hinchingbrooke no longer needs the three remote wards at the south of the campus.

At least in theory, that land and those buildings can be sold.

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"If there is to be a capital receipt (from any sale), I shall be campaigning for it not to be used to reduce any shortfall, but to provide infrastructure for a sustainable hospital for the people of Huntingdonshire," Mr Millar said.

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